August 14, 2007 By Wayne Hanson
The Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (MiNATOA) yesterday released a statement saying that Comcast Communications is now "severely restricting the complimentary cable service it now provides to police and fire stations in Michigan."
According to a recent letter from Comcast, said MiNATOA, "state legislators saw fit to fundamentally alter video service providers' complimentary service obligations across the state.
"Apparently," continued MiNATOA, "the cable giant was referencing a new, sweeping state law which essentially deregulated cable service in Michigan. The new statute allows cable operators to ignore many of their existing contractual commitments to local communities, including ongoing obligations to provide cable service to police and fire stations."
"Comcast really missed the mark on this one," said Larry Stoever, city manager for the city of Saline, Mich. "In a local government setting, cable service means more than video programming. For example, local governments can use cable as a distance learning tool so police and fire personnel can remain on call at their home station rather than travel to another location for training. It's also a good way to keep local police and fire stations informed about regional and state-wide emergencies."
MiNATOA said that Comcast will continue to provide service to one police station and one fire station in each community. But according to Carl Solden, supervisor for Waterford Township, Mich., "Even many small- to mid-size communities have more than one fire station. Can Comcast really decide that one police or fire station is more important than any other?"
Comcast did not reply to an e-mail query by press time.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.